1987 – present (32 years)
For the 60s-era band alterately known by this name, see: The Gun.
Gun (1987-1997, 2008-today) is a hard rock band from Glasgow, Scotland. Starting out as 'Blind Allez' and then ‘Phobia’, the name 'Gun' got settled upon signing a record deal with A&M. Early gigs saw them touring with their fellow Scots Simple Minds whilst at the same time selling out their own headline shows. Though having many releases, the group is best known for an energetic arena rock version of the classic dance song "Word Up", Gun's cover being a top 40 hit in nations such as Germany, New Zealand, and the U.K.
Gun's original studio line-up consisted of Mark Rankin as lead singer, Guiliano Gizzi and "Baby" Stafford playing guitar, Dante Gizzi on bass, and Scott Shields rounding off the group on drums. Mark Rankin’s cousin, Sharleen Spiteri of Texas, sang backing vocals on the band's first two albums, 1989's Taking on the World and 1992's Gallus, as well. Although not quite breaking into the musical mainstream, their brand of American-influenced alternative music mixed with melodic hard rock garnered a large cult-following.
The group's defiantly titled debut has picked up praise from critics such as AllMusic's Alex Henderson, who praised Gun's ability to "absorb different influences and still project an identity of their own". Sophomore album Gallus represented an evolution of the same sound and brought the band tantalizingly close to stardom. Singles "Higher Ground", "Steal Your Fire", and "Welcome to the Real World" reached #48, #24, and #43 on the charts, respectively. Gallus itself peaked at the #14 slot on the country's official albums chart. Recorded with a line-up shift taking in guitarist Alex Dickson, the release's cover aptly featured the renowned Scottish boxer Benny Lynch.
The band's 1994 album, titled Swagger, provided the breakthrough that the guys had been hoping for. It features their most successful single, which happened to stay on the official British singles chart for a total of seven weeks, in their version of "Word Up". Done in the group's melodic hard rock style, it provided a commercial boost to its parent album and has become Gun's best known song. The track (originally recorded by American funk group Cameo) notably won the Best Cover trophy at the first international MTV Europe Music Awards, with that inaugural event being held on November 24, 1994 at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.
The album produced a total of four U.K. Top 40 singles between July 1994 and April 1995: "Word Up" (#8), "Don't Say It's Over" (#19), "The Only One" (#29), and "Something Worthwhile" (#39). Its release took place after a notable change in the band's line-up, with the group becoming a quartet made up of the Mark Rankin, Dante Gizzi, and Giuliano Gizzi core plus drummer Mark Kerr. It was produced and engineered by Chris Sheldon. He had previously worked with other English, Irish, and Scottish artists such as the singer-songwriters Hugh Cornwell, Gary Numan, and Roger Waters in the 80s and 90s.
As great as it all felt, having something out praised by the likes of Q Magazine and even reaching the peak of #5 on the official British albums chart, Gun still faced the tricky challenge of finding out what to do next. As well, the guys found themselves in an uncomfortable position after the Dunblane massacre and other high-profile gun crimes in the U.K. brought the politics around firearms to a head. The group mutated its name into G.U.N. and came out with 0141 632 6326 in 1997. The quirky title and cover art matched the change in style, the group taking on a slick, funk-influenced sound under the influence of producer Andrew Farris (best known for being in INXS). Turmoil behind the album's creation had gotten so tense that the band members nearly walked right out on the recording people, though they ultimately stayed put.
The album appeared to signal the end of the hard rock ethos that they'd built their reputation on. Seemingly floundering, without any commercial or critical success to fall back on, Gun called it quits. Even after their 1997 folding, the group did, nonetheless, reform for charity-related gigs later on in the late 90s and the following decade. Having Toby Jepson (ex-Little Angels) on guest vocals brought some attention, but the possibility of a full reunion seemed murky.
After some more sporadic activity, Gun finally reformed in 2008 on a permanent basis, with Jepson confirmed as frontman Rankin's replacement. Even as their line-up experienced a bunch of changes, the group dedicated itself to recapturing the early 90s spirit of those first releases and that heavy yet melodic style. Brothers Dante and Giuliano Gizzi remained the center of the band. Local interest around Scotland as well as growing curiosity across the U.K. spawned successful touring and the release of an E.P. simply titled Popkiller, the band even performing at a variety of European gigs.
Despite a positive response from the group's fans, the 2009 mini-album from the reformed rockers got followed by a period of additional line-up fluctuations and struggles at the edge of commercial success. Frontman Toby Jepson notably left Gun in mid-2010 to concentrate on other projects. Dante Gizzi decided to step up from simply handling backing vocals to being the lead vocalist. The team of the Gizzi brothers with bassist Derek Brown and drummer Paul McManus jelled during various tours since 2010. While post-reunion Gun remained outside the musical mainstream, the guys determined to keep the band's flame alive with their live performances and hold to their deliberately retro rock sound in future releases.
2012's Break the Silence and 2015's Frantic both, as shown from the titles alone, found the band wrestling with its place in a quickly evolving music industry as well as with the legacy of its career. The group's latest studio album is Favourite Pleasures, which came out on 15 September 2017. The buzz from publications such as Drowned in Sound, Glasgow Live, and Mic Magazine U.K. have praised the release as Gun's best post-reunion effort. Recording in the band's own Morse Code studios in Paisley, Scotland, the Gizzi brothers have credited new guitarist Tommy Gentry, a charismatic blonde-haired metalhead poached from Zico Chain, for the boost that they've been looking for.
Current line-up as Gun:
Dante Gizzi - Vocals
Giulano "Jools" Gizzi - Guitar
Tommy Genry - Guitar
Andy Carr - Bass
Paul McManus - Drums
Former members within Gun include (1987 - 1997, 2008 - 2017):
Toby Jepson - Vocals
Mark Rankin - Vocals
Camillo Morlotti - Bass
Baby Stafford - Guitar
Scott Shields - Drums
Alex Dickson - Guitar
Mark Kerr - Drums
Stuart Kerr - Drums
Alan Thornton - Drums
Gordon Mcneil - Drums
Irvin Duguid - Keyboards
Greg Barnes - Keyboards
Line-up within Blind Allez:
Guilano Gizzi - Guitar
Ian Murray - Guitar
Camillo Morlotti - Bass
Peter Scallan - Vocals
Alan Thornton - Drums
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